Thousands of tourists flock to Hollywood each year to star gaze. However, the real stars are not to be found on the Boulevard, but rather high up in the Hollywood Hills at the Griffith Observatory. Named after Griffith Jenkins Griffith, a man whose vision was to make astronomy accessible to all, this unique architectural gem is one of Southern California’s most visited landmarks.
The land was once known as Rancho Los Feliz, owned by the Feliz family, until Griffith purchased the property in 1882. A native of Wales, who made his fortune in the Mexican silver mines and later in California real estate, decided to create a public park and moved permanently in the area. In 1896 he donated 3,015 acres to the city of Los Angeles and today this area is known as Griffith Park (the largest urban park in the U.S.) and the prestigious Los Feliz neighborhood.
Griffith became interested in Astronomy after he was introduced to the new research observatory at Mount Wilson. After looking through the 60-inch telescope at Mount Wilson he was deeply moved. He offered a large sum of money to the City of Los Angeles to build an observatory on the top of Mount Hollywood. The plan included a giant telescope and a planetarium open to the public.
Unfortunately he did not see his dream become reality, as he died in 1919, but in spring of 1930 his trust’s governing board hired a core team and started the planning process. The groundbreaking occurred in 1933. The dedication and formal opening of Griffith Observatory took place amid much fanfare on May 14, 1935. In 2015 the Observatory will celebrate its 80th anniversary.
Visitors can simply enjoy the vast view toward the coast, overlooking the stunning skyline of Los Angeles or attend the live planetarium shows, see a presentation at the Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon Theater or join the Sunset Walk & Talk Events.